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Michelle Vara says she enjoys when a piece fights her to "get the conversation out." An artist for more than 35 years, Vara, of Ballard Road Art Studio in Wilton, says metal sculpting is not only her job, but her life.

Grinding, cutting and pounding pieces into shape, she welds them together, working to express "a flow and dimension beyond words." The rigidity and resilience of the material is why she chooses the medium adding that once the metal is "concurred," it is soft and subtle enough to convey deep meaning to a variety of audiences.

Integrated into many of her sculptures are items with a history: A hammer used for years by a stone-mason friend who has passed on, an egg basket whose owner simply adored her chickens, a piece of keepsake glass saved for years and brought from one continent to another. Vara says she enjoys not only the hunt for the piece, but the story of the piece, and by integrating these items they lend "new life to a new project."

Vara is constantly sketching ideas for projects. Her library contains more than 3,000 sketchbooks of concepts, some realized, many yet to come to fruition. She says her ideas never end because the world starts anew every day.

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